Effect of thermostat and window opening occupant behavior models on energy use in homes

Simona D'Oca, Valentina Fabi, Stefano P. Corgnati, Rune Korsholm Andersen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Existing dynamic energy simulation tools exceed the static dimension of the simplified methods through a better and more accurate prediction of energy use; however, their ability to predict real energy consumption is undermined by a weak representation of human interactions with the control of the indoor environment. The traditional approach to building dynamic simulation considers energy consumption as fully deterministic, taking into account standardized input parameters and using fixed and unrealistic schedules (lighting level, occupancy, ventilation rate, thermostat set-point). In contrast, in everyday practice occupants interact with the building plant system and building envelope in order to achieve desired indoor environmental conditions. In this study, occupant behavior in residential building was modelled accordingly to a probabilistic approach. A new methodology was developed to combine probabilistic user profiles for both window opening and thermostat set-point adjustments into one building energy model implemented in the dynamic simulation tool IDA Ice. The aim of the study was to compare mean values of the probabilistic distribution of the obtained results with a singular heating energy consumption value obtained by means of standard deterministic simulations. Major findings of this research demonstrated the weakness of standardized occupant behavior profile in energy simulation tools and the strengths of energy models based on measurements in fields and probabilistic modelling providing scenarios of occupant behavior in buildings.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBuilding Simulation
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)683-694
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Occupant behavior
  • Residential buildings
  • Building energy modelling
  • Window opening
  • Thermostat set-point


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